Culture worthy of your calendar

On Friday, Jan. 14, the Festival of Orchestras will present the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

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  • | 6:41 a.m. January 5, 2011
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Cabaret at the Playhouse

It is rare — but wonderful — when we are given a singer who combines beauty, charm, vocal technique and comic abilities. One such talent is Heather Alexander, the comic seductress who — along with being multi-talented — is a founder and executive director of the Winter Park Playhouse. Heather will perform her first solo cabaret act, “I Was Born To Entertain”, at the Playhouse on Jan. 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 8 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Heather, who has been performing for more than 25 years onstage, is also the co-host of The Florida Lottery’s Flamingo Fortune game show. “I Was Born to Entertain” chronicles her life as a performer through songs from Broadway, radio and film. Seating is limited; advance reservations are recommended. The Winter Park Playhouse is located at 711-C Orange Ave. in Winter Park. Call 407-645-0145 or visit

Super thespians!

Tomorrow’s musical-theater talent will be presented in a song-filled musical showcase when the Breakthrough Theatre of Winter Park presents more than 50 Central Florida students performing songs that earned them “Superior Ratings” at the District Thespian Festival for solo, duet and small-group musical performance. Students from 15 schools over three districts will present their winning performances in a varied and fascinating show that draws from decades of Broadway musicals. From the zany comedy of “Anything Goes” to the legendary “Gypsy”, to the history-making “Miss Saigon”, to the recent “Young Frankenstein”, musical numbers from legendary Broadway plays to the completely unknown were chosen by these young performers. The 50 young performers will present 31 different songs, presenting a unique opportunity for us to visit favorites and lesser-known works introduced to us by the stars of tomorrow. The showcase will be presented on Jan. 7 and 8 at 8 p.m., and on Jan. 9 at 3 p.m. Call 407-920-4034 or visit Breakthrough Theatre is at 421 W. Fairbanks Ave. in Winter Park.

Bryce Hammond

It is not surprising that Artist Bryce Hammond is better known in New York and Los Angeles than he is in Central Florida. This brilliant young father of two was born and raised in New Smyrna Beach, but his edgy paintings of inner city spaces are better known in New York, where his shows regularly sell out (once on the opening night) and in L.A., where movie directors have used his paintings in the fantasy homes of several major motion pictures. Now Hammond is bringing his work home to New Smyrna at the Arts on Douglas Gallery. Hammond’s new exhibit, entitled Exit Postmodern, will have its opening reception on Saturday, Jan. 8 from 4-7 p.m. with the exhibit running through Jan. 29. Divided into three parts, the exhibit includes Hammond’s signature urban landscapes; the modular series, where the paintings have a sculptural shape; and the Shelving Vilano Beach series, which focuses on a small Florida beach town. The opening reception — with the artist in attendance — is free and open to the public. The Gallery is at 123 Douglas St. in New Smyrna Beach. Call 386-428-1133 or visit

Toronto Symphony

The Festival of Orchestras has presented the world’s great orchestras to Central Florida for decades, and this year they moved the entire series to the Northland Performing Arts Center (in the Northland Church) in Longwood. On Friday, Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m., the Festival will present the Toronto Symphony Orchestra with Conductor Peter Oundjian and Violinist James Ehnes performing classics by Barber and Tchaikovsky, and “Torque”, a work by Canadian composer Gary Kulesha. The Toronto Symphony is Canada’s premier orchestra performing not only for their live audiences, but for millions of classic music lovers in their concert broadcasts on CBC Radio. The Longwood program will include Barber’s “Violin Concerto, op. 14” and Tchaikovsky’s “5th Symphony”. Northland’s 3,100-seat arts center is just two years old and beautifully equipped to host the international symphony orchestras. A free pre-concert music lecture is offered on Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m. prior to the symphony performance. Festival of Orchestras Music Advisory Board member and Canadian born concert pianist Dr. Anne McLean will offer her insights about the program to music lovers who arrive one hour before the performance. The performance — and the free music lecture — will be held at Northland Church at 530 Dog Track Road in Longwood. Call 407-539-0245. An RSVP is required for the lecture.